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Published Sep. 13, 2021

Do you lead an active or busy lifestyle? Do you find yourself wanting a quick yet nutritious meal that you can take on-the-go? Enter the best meal replacement shakes. Packed with protein, superfoods, fruits and vegetables, vitamins, and minerals, these shakes provide the nutrition your body needs from a meal. While they should not replace every meal, they can replace any meal. 

Meal replacement shakes contain enough protein and nutrients to keep you fuller,  longer throughout the day and promote a healthy lifestyle. They are also great for pre-and post-workouts as they help with muscle recovery and provide an energy boost. 

How We Picked the Best Meal Replacement Shakes

Methodology 

There’s no shortage of meal replacement shakes available, but we wanted to be sure we chose the healthiest options for this list, as well as offering a choice between all-in-one shakes and powder mixes, since each has its own pros and cons in terms of convenience.

The most important factor for inclusion on the list was the ingredients. We wanted to be sure there was enough protein—at least 15 grams—per serving. We also looked at how the protein was sourced: Was it plant-based? Organic? Since what we put into our bodies is so important, we looked for clean and organic ingredients. In addition to protein, we checked the amount of vitamins, minerals, fiber, fruits, and vegetables in each shake, and looked to see if the shakes contained added sugar, and if so how much. We also checked to see if the products contained preservatives or artificial flavors or colors, and if all ingredients were non-GMO. Lastly we checked the flavor options. There’s no point in a healthy shake that doesn’t taste good and won’t be consumed. We tried to make sure that this list contained flavors that would appeal to everyone.

The Best Meal Replacement Shakes: Reviews and Recommendations

Best Overall: Garden of Life Raw Organic Meal

Health First

Garden of Life Raw Organic Meal is an organic raw plant based protein powder that comes in four delicious flavors. Garden of Life

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Why It Made The Cut: This Garden of Life Raw Organic Meal contains 20 grams of plant-based protein and 44 superfoods.

Specs:  

  • Powder or All-in-One: Powder
  • Flavors: Chocolate, Vanilla, Vanilla Chai, Slightly Sweet
  • Servings: 14 or 28
  • Calories per serving: 130
Pros:Cons:
  • Includes 44 superfoods from organic grass juices, fruits, and veggies
  • Pricey 
  • Packed with 21 vitamins and minerals 
  • Organic and gluten-free
  • Garden of Life Raw Organic Meal is a meal replacement shake that comes in powder form to be mixed with either water or a milk of your choosing. With 20 grams of clean protein per scoop, plus greens, healthy fat, three grams of fiber, probiotics, and 21 vitamins and minerals, this meal replacement shake is packed with nutrition and ingredients to keep you full and feeling great. This shake powder contains less than one gram of sugar so it doesn’t add extra calories to your daily intake. The shake also includes 44 superfoods like organic grass juice, vegetables, and fruits for the fiber, protein, vitamins, and minerals you would find in a healthy meal. 

    Offered in four flavors—vanilla, vanilla chai, chocolate, and lightly sweet—there’s an option for everyone. In addition to helping with weight loss, this shake is also great for post-workout recovery as it helps boost energy and build lean muscle. While some shakes can be hard on the digestive system, this one contains 1.5 billion CFU probiotics and enzymes for easy digestion. 

    Best Value: KOS Organic Plant Based Protein Powder

    Delicious Flavor

    KOS Organic Plant Based Protein Powder is a completely vegan powder meal replacement shake packed with 20 grams of protein. KOS

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    Why It Made The Cut: KOS Organic Plant Based Protein Powder has a five-protein blend of pea, flax seed, quinoa, pumpkin seed, and chia seed plus essential vitamins and minerals. And who can resist the delicious chocolate peanut butter flavor? 

    Specs: 

    • Powder or All-in-One: Powder
    • Flavors: Chocolate Peanut Butter, Chocolate, Vanilla, Chocolate Chip Mint, Salted Caramel Coffee, Blueberry Muffin, Unsweetened 
    • Servings: 10 or 15
    • Calories per serving: 160 
    Pros:Cons:
  • Enhanced with a digestive enzyme blend 
  • Uses stevia
  • Almost all ingredients are certified organic
  • No gluten, dairy, hormones, artificial colors or sweeteners
  • To get its delicious chocolate peanut butter flavor, KOS Organic Plant Based Protein Powder is made with USDA- and CCOF- (California Certified Organic Farmers)certified ingredients like organic cacao, peanut flour, Himalayan salt, coconut milk, and a bit of stevia and monk fruit. The powder can either be mixed with cold water or added to smoothies and snacks. It can even be used to make protein cookie dough. 

    Using a five-protein blend of peas, flax seeds, quinoa, pumpkin seeds, and chia seeds, this vegan protein powder packs 20 grams of protein per serving. What’s more, the soluble fiber in plant protein provides that “full” feeling for longer, so you eat less but still get the calories and nutrition your body needs. DigeSEB, a digestive enzyme blend, is also part of the formulation, to support digestion and help the body absorb nutrients. What you won’t find in this protein powder are gluten, soy, hormones, dairy, and artificial colors or sweeteners.

    Best for On-the-Go: Orgain Organic Nutritional Shake

    Simple and Convenient

    The Orgain Organic Nutritional Shake is an all-in-one meal replacement shake with 16 grams of protein and 20 vitamins and minerals. Orgain

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    Why It Made The Cut: This nutritional shake is a great option for healthy, on-the-go nourishment whether you’re in need of a quick snack, full meal replacement, or pre- and post-workout pick-me-up. 

    Specs:

    • Powder or All-in-One: All-in-One
    • Flavors: Vanilla, Strawberries and Cream, Iced Cafe Mocha, Chocolate Fudge
    • Servings: 12 Pack of 11-ounce Bottles 
    • Calories per serving: 250
    Pros:Cons:
  • 16 grams of organic protein
  • 12 grams of sugar
  • 20 vitamins and minerals
  • 10 fruits and vegetables 
  • Great source of vitamins and minerals
  • If you’re looking for complete, convenient nutrition when you can’t be at home, Orgain Organic Nutritional Shake is a great option. The shake includes 16 grams of protein from organic whey protein concentrate and organic grass fed milk protein concentrate. The shake also has two grams of fiber and 21 vitamins and minerals, and ten fruits and vegetables including acai, spinach and kale. All ingredients are certified USDA Organic. 

    Available in flavors like Iced Cafe Mocha, Vanilla, Chocolate and Strawberries and Cream, you don’t have to sacrifice flavor for a healthy protein shake. This all-in-one shake is made without artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives and is gluten-free, vegetarian, kosher, non-GMO, soy-free, and free of antibiotics and hormones. 

    That said, this shake has more calories than some other protein powders. While 250 calories for a meal isn’t a lot, consider how many calories you’re comfortable consuming in a meal-replacement shake. 

    Best Plant-Based: Soylent Meal Replacement Shake

    Plants To The Rescue

    Soylent Meal Replacement Shake is a convenient and nutrition-packed plant-based protein shake. Soylent

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    Why It Made The Cut: The Soylent Meal Replacement Shake provides 39 essential nutrients: plant-based protein, slow burning carbs, healthy fats, and micronutrients. 

    Specs: 

    • Powder or All-in-One: All-in-One
    • Flavors: Chocolate, Mint Chocolate, Strawberry, Vanilla, Banana, Cafe Mocha, Cafe Chai, Original 
    • Servings: 12 Pack of 14-ounce Bottles 
    • Calories per serving: 400
    Pros:Cons:
  • 20 grams of plant-based protein 
  • High calorie count
  • Includes 28 vitamins and minerals 
  • Uses natural carbohydrates that burn slower than other sugars
  • Looking for a comprehensive nutritional package? Consider the Soylent Meal Replacement Shake. It contains 20 grams of plant-based protein per serving. The protein comes from soy, which is the most complete plant-based protein and contains all nine essential amino acids. Plant-based protein supports lean muscles, strength, and energy. Thirty-nine essential nutrients—including 28 vitamins and minerals, and nine amino acids—support metabolism, immunity and overall health. And healthy fats like the omega-3 and omega-6 contribute to a healthy heart. 

    While the shake’s 400 calories per serving may seem high, Soylent uses natural, low-calorie carbohydrates that burn slower than other sugars so this drink has a low glycemic index and keeps you fuller longer. In addition, Soylent will also keep you hydrated with necessary electrolytes like potassium and magnesium.

    Best for Women: Nature’s Bounty Complete Protein & Vitamin Shake Mix

    Protein Plus

    Nature’s Bounty Complete Protein & Vitamin Shake Mix is a powder that provides protein, fiber, vitamins, and collagen. Nature’s Bounty

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    Why It Made The Cut: Nature’s Bounty Complete Protein & Vitamin Shake Mix is the only meal replacement shake we found that in addition to protein, fiber, vitamins and antioxidants, also contains collagen. 

    Specs: 

    • Powder or All-in-One: Powder
    • Flavors: Chocolate or Vanilla
    • Servings: 13
    • Calories per serving: 110
    Pros:Cons:
  • Great source of protein, fiber, and collagen
  • Only two flavors offered
  • Contains Vitamin B and C, electrolytes and probiotics 
  • No artificial color, flavor or preservatives
  • Nature’s Bounty Complete Protein & Vitamin Shake Mix contains a nutrient blend that targets the key nutritional needs of women. With the addition of collagen to the shake’s protein and fiber, this mix supports healthy skin, bone health, energy, metabolism, and muscle health. The 15 grams of protein in each serving come from soy protein isolate and whey protein concentrate. Nature’s Bounty also provides B vitamins, antioxidants, electrolytes, and probiotics. 

    Nature’s Bounty only uses ingredients from suppliers that meet GMP (federal “good manufacturing practices”) supplement quality standards. This powder mixes with either water or the milk of your choosing. While the only flavors offered are vanilla and chocolate, you can experiment by adding the powder to fruity smoothies.

    Things to Consider Before Buying a Meal Replacement Shake

    Powder or All-In-One

    Powder shakes are typically mixed with water or a milk of your choice. They can also be added to smoothies or even used to make high-protein cookies. The powder option offers more versatility when it comes to making the shake but does take a little time to prepare. All-in-one shakes are sold pre-made and ready to drink, so they’re easy to grab when you’re running out of your house. One thing to note, however, is that all-in-one shakes tend to have more calories than their powder mix counterparts. 

    Plant-Based Protein

    Why is plant-based protein powder so popular? For starters, plant proteins build muscle and aid recovery just as well as whey protein, if not better. They also improve health and deliver a broad range of nutrients. Plus, they’re better for the environment.

    Fruits and Vegetables 

    If you’re making your protein shake at home you can always add fruit and vegetables for more nutrients and flavor. Some protein powders include organic grass juices, fruits and veggies to provide beneficial nutrients, while others add vitamins and healthy fats. It really depends on your flavor preferences and where you want your nutrients to come from.

    FAQs

    Q: Are meal replacement shakes good for weight loss?

    Yes. They’re designed to replace breakfast, lunch, or dinner and they contain lots of nutrients but with fewer calories than you would normally eat during a meal. Look for shakes high in protein to help manage your appetite.  

    Q: What’s the best brand of meal replacement shakes?

    While there are many top-notch brands of replacement shakes, one of the best is Garden of Life. The Garden of Life Raw Organic Meal shake delivers a strong blend of vitamins, nutrients and minerals, and packs in 20 grams of plant protein using ingredients like organic grass juices, fruits, and vegetables. 

    Q: Is it OK to only drink meal replacement shakes?

    Meal-replacement shakes can replace any meal but not every meal. In other words, have a meal replacement shake once a day, but whether you have it for breakfast, lunch, or dinner is your choice. While the shakes do contain many of the nutrients, minerals, and vitamins that the body needs, they don’t have them all, so they shouldn’t be replacing every meal. 

    Final Thoughts

    The best meal replacement shakes are great for those on-the-go, for those who are interested in weight loss, or for those looking for an energy boost before or after an intense workout. Before replacing your meal with a shake, be sure to read all of the ingredients to ensure you’re getting the right amount of protein and nutrients you need to stay healthy. And remember, meal replacement shakes can replace any meal, but not every meal. 

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